Foreign Policy Research Institute A Nation Must Think Before it Acts America’s Foundations, Foundationalisms, and Fundamentalisms

America’s Foundations, Foundationalisms, and Fundamentalisms

The creation of the American republic occurred at a hinge moment, when the understanding of republics in ancient and neoclassical terms was increasingly in competition with a new, modern understanding that was both commercial and individualist. In the ancient understanding, the purpose of a republic was to enhance the opportunity for citizens to display and develop their political capacity; in the modern understanding, it was to increase their freedom—often defined as their right—to engage in a great variety of social behaviors (many of them acquisitive) which need not be directly political at all. Thus the function of the political was to liberate and protect the personal and the social.

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